Prescription Drug Prices Soared Out of Control in 2016

Prescription Drug Prices Soared Out of Control in 2016

We all know that prescription drug prices are on the rise, but the pace of that acceleration is vastly out of step with nationwide inflation, according to new numbers from Truveris.

The company compiles the National Drug Index, which tracks the price of the most commonly prescribed medications in the U.S. Results for 2016 continued the runaway increases of recent years, posting a rise of 8.7% compared to prices the previous year.

Even more alarming is the fact that this is the fourth consecutive year of growth around that level. Taken as an average over the past three years, prescription drug prices have risen annually by just under 10%.

The report goes on to flag further concerning trends, including:

  • The price of brand name drugs accelerated at the highest rate, rising 13% in 2016. Compared to the half percent rise in generics, it’s clear that patent-holding pharmaceutical brands are squeezing every last cent out of their blockbuster drugs while competition is limited.
  • Set against the Dept. of Labor’s inflation metric, the Consumer Price Index, the numbers get even worse. The increase of prescription drug prices is 300% more than that of common household goods.
  • Upward momentum shows no sign of slowing down, as Q1 2017 drug prices are already outpacing inflation and up 2% for the year so far.

Despite these runaway costs, the news will come as no great shock to American patients. If anything, it simply helps them but a percentage figure on what they have known for years: getting the medication you need is an expense that stretches almost everyone’s budget.

The issue had been thrust into the limelight earlier this year, as prominent political figures on both sides of the aisle decried the spiraling cost of American medication. Patients and politicians alike point to Canadian prices and the US limitations on generics as primary factors, yet neither group has been able to gather momentum against the undeniable power of large pharmaceutical companies.

For the time being, Americans will continue to bear the weight of the country’s rising prescription drug prices. Whether it’s at the counter or in our insurance premiums, costs will continue to rise at a rapid pace if nothing is done about the underlying causes.

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